OceanSide church of Christ
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MAN HAS A SOUL
Victor M. Eskew
There are only two views as to the origin of man. One view says that man is an evolved creature. This view teaches that his origin dates back billions of years to some unexplainable gasses that exploded somewhere in the vastness of space. Molecules haphazardly, luckily arranged themselves in such a way as to produce order, design, life, and consciousness. Life began, we are told, in a very simplistic form. Over time, however, it evolved into its highest form, man. According to this view, man is only an animal. His end is death. Beyond the grave, they say, there is nothing for man.
The second view declares that man is the creation of an Almighty and loving God. This view says that man was created from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7), but he was also made in the image and likeness of that holy Being who created him (Gen. 1:26-27). Man, therefore, is not an animal. Man is above the animal kingdom. Man has within him a soul that makes him unique. This soul, implanted within him by God, will never die. At death, the body returns unto the dust, but the spirit unto God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7).
One’s view of the origin of man depends upon his view of the existence of God. If there is no God, man is a hopeless animal. If there is a God, man is God’s creation destined to live beyond the grave. This writer knows that God exists. God has revealed himself to man both in the creation and in that book known as the Bible. In the Bible, God teaches us that man has a soul. Let’s examine this concept more in the remainder of this article.
There are numerous passages of Scripture that teach us that man has a soul. One of them records the words of Jesus during His earthly sojourn. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). Paul also teaches that man has a soul. In fact, he reveals that man is a triune being, that is, he consists of three parts, body, soul, and spirit. As he closes his first epistle to the Thessalonians, he writes: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:23). In a study of the soul, it is often difficult to distinguish between the soul and the spirit. In Hebrews 4:12, however, we learn that the Word of God has the power to differentiate between the two. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
While man lives, his soul and body work in complete harmony with one another. There is such harmonious operation between them that they appear to be one, but they are not. Man is really composed of two beings, the outer man and the inner man. Paul writes about this in II Corinthians 4:16-5:4. Let’s begin with II Corinthians 4:16. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, ye the inward man is renewed day by day.” It is the inner man that gives life to the outer man. When the inner man departs from the body, there is death (James 2:26). In II Corinthians 5:1-4, the inspired apostle notes that man puts off “the earthly house of this tabernacle” and earnestly desires “to be clothed with our house which is in heaven.” The physical body that houses the soul with be dissolved at death. It will be raised a spiritual body and that body will then encapsulate the soul of man throughout eternity.
There has been much discussion about the state of the soul of man between death and the resurrection. Some teach that the soul sleeps. Others teach that the soul is alive, alert, and awake during that time. There are several texts in the Bible that teach that the soul of man continues in a conscious state at death. One of the most powerful texts involves the account Jesus gives of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (vs. 21-23).
The rich man and Lazarus died. Their bodies were buried, but their souls were taken into the eternal realm. Lazarus entered a section called “Abraham’s bosom.” The rich man entered into “hell,” the Greek word his “hades.”
The text clearly reveals that these men are not sleeping. They are conscious of their surroundings after death. The rich man can see, “…and in hell he lifted up his eyes…and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (v. 23). The rich can feel, “…being in torments…for I am tormented in this flame” (vs. 23, 24). The rich man can speak, “and he cried and said…” (v. 24). The rich man can recognize others (vs. 23-24). The rich man can remember (vs. 25, 27-28). The rich man can reason (vs. 30). Sleeping souls cannot do these things. Jesus vividly teaches us that the dead are conscious after death. Some argue that this is just a parable. First, the text does not say this is a parable. Jesus sets this account before us as a real event: “There was a certain rich man…And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus…” Second, Jesus never told a parable that was not true to life. His parables were not fictitious. His parables told about true events of life. These true stories had spiritual applications cast along side of them.
Man is a created being. Man was created with a body and with a soul. In life, the two operate together. In death, the soul and the body separate from one another. The body returns unto the dust of the ground, but the spirit returns to God who gave it. The soul awaits its reunion with a spiritual body at the time of the resurrection. Until that time, the soul is conscious in the hadean realm. It is either comforted in the bosom of Abraham, or, it is afflicted in the realm of torment. These teachings create both soberness and hope within man. Hope is found in the fact that man does not just perish at death. There is life beyond the grave. Soberness comes from the fact that one’s eternal destination in the hereafter is determined by how he lives in the here and now.